Port Elizabeth – Describing their opening loss to Western Province as “first game jitters”, EP Kings coach Carlos Spencer named an unchanged starting line-up for their second Currie Cup premier division rugby match against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
In their return to the top flight domestic rugby, the Kings lost 35-16 to WP in Port Elizabeth on Friday and Spencer said they were expecting another tough challenge against the Gauteng outfit.
“We did miss some opportunities against Western Province and I guess there were some first game jitters,” Spencer said on Tuesday.
“So we have shown faith in the players by sticking with the same XV and hopefully they will be over any nervousness.”
The Kings coach said they had spoken at length about the crucial errors they made against WP and were intent on getting it right against the Lions.
“We didn't take control of certain phases of play against WP and rushed things at times.
“We need to rectify that against the Lions to have any chance of winning.”
After the Johannesburg side's convincing win over the Blue Bulls at the weekend, Spencer said the Lions would be one of the teams to beat this season.
“Lions are a very good team, with a strong scrum and a strong driving lineout, plus a very good loose forward trio.
“We understand it will be a tough game but we don't believe the Lions are unbeatable.”
The only change to the Kings squad is the inclusion of lock Steven Sykes on the bench in place of Darron Nell.
Spencer said Sykes, one of the Kings' more experienced players, would come off the bench during the match.
“We don't think Steven has had quite enough game time after two to three months off at this stage, but we will definitely use him off the bench.”
Kings squad: Lizo Gqoboka, Edgar Marutlulle, Tom Botha, Steven Cummins, David Bulbring, Thembelani Bholi, Stefan Willemse, Luke Watson (captain), Tobie Botes, Gary van Aswegen, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Shane Gates, Tim Whitehead, Ronnie Cooke, Scott van Breda. Replacements: Albe de Swardt, CJ vd Linde, Steven Sykes, Aidon Davis, Kevin Luiters, George Whitehead, Ntabeni Dukisa – Sapa